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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  K-12 education

Riverside High School: David Stehlar took fiery route during high school career, leaving for job with Kalispel Tribe firefighters but finishing online

UPDATED: Tue., June 7, 2022

David Stehlar of Riverside High School intends to pursue a career as a firefighter after serving as a volunteer for South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue.  (Courtesy)
David Stehlar of Riverside High School intends to pursue a career as a firefighter after serving as a volunteer for South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue. (Courtesy)
By Sydney Fluker For The Spokesman-Review

For David Stehlar, it wasn’t athletics, academics or parties that made high school memorable – it was the firefighting.

Inspired by the movie “Only the Brave,” Stehlar became interested in firefighting as a career.

Stehlar started volunteering with South Pend Oreille Fire & Rescue in April of his junior year at Riverside High School.

Volunteer firefighting gave him an opportunity to explore the job, allowing him to find that he had a passion for the field.

While Stehlar has been training throughout his time firefighting, his official academy program began in October, the fall of his senior year. He graduated from the academy that December, four days after turning 18.

The program consisted of classes on Wednesday and training on Saturdays, mainly surrounding structure fires. He’s completed his required training and can drive the apparatuses. He hopes to eventually try smokejumping.

“I’m looking forward to getting experience with more wildland so I can get better at it,” Stehlar said.

This fire season, he has been hired by the Kalispel Tribe and will be stationed in Usk. He left home May 2 to start his job on May 3. He will be graduating from RHS with his class but is finishing his senior year online.

Aside from firefighting, Stehlar has been active with extracurriculars and academics.

Prior to the fire academy, Stehlar spent the majority of his time on a farm, living on one farm with his family and working at another one. He began working on a farm when he was 14, looking for a way to fill time that makes money.

“I was raised on a farm, so instead of just doing chores at home I was now getting paid for it,” Stehlar said.

Farm work can be grueling, demanding weeks of 10- to 12-hour work days at certain times. He quit farmwork in November to focus on firefighting.

Stehlar has raised swine and sheep for 4-H and FFA, showing swine at the Junior Livestock Show of Spokane every year since he was in third grade. He is in his 12th year of 4-H, having also shown livestock at the Clayton Community Fair since kindergarten.

This year, RHS brought back its FFA program, where Stehlar serves on the officer team as sentinel and participates on the livestock judging team.

“He’s always been an active kid,” said his mom, Amanda Stehlar. “It’s always fun, he’s just done everything to stay busy.”

Throughout his senior year, Stehlar has attended school full time, been an active member of 4-H and FFA, wrestled and played baseball for the Riverside Rams while attending night classes and trainings for the fire department. With all of his extracurriculars, Stehlar has maintained better than a 3.1 for all of high school.

“I haven’t really had to worry about him,” Amanda said. “He’s always done the right thing and made great choices.”

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